Priorities, obligations and guilt

I really am persona non grata with my family at the moment. Why? Because I’m not joining them all for Christmas in the cold, dark, wet UK – I’ve booked myself a trip to Egypt and Dubai for three weeks.Pyramids, camels, sphinxes – here I come.

Having not had a vacation since last October, I can’t wait. I love going to interesting places which are different from my usual environment. (Preferably ones that include lots of markets and haggling. I am one great haggler.) Being in a completely different environment is what restores my perspective and refreshes me and because I’ve worked so very, very hard this year, my priority is to reward myself and do something that will rejuvenate me.

There were tentative discussions a few months ago about a big family Christmas, particularly as it will be my new niece’s first. Proud auntie that I am, and bursting with excitement when she arrived a few weeks ago, I seriously toyed with the idea of just putting an airline ticket on my newly-paid-off credit card (*smug smile*) and surprising them with a visit. But financial sense and an overwhelming workload put paid to that idea.

Now that I’ve made my own plans for Christmas, I am not popular. Never mind that I’ve not had a holiday at all in over a year. Or that considering I need to keep out of the sun, it’s only time of year that Egypt is feasible for me. Never mind that I wangled a work trip to the UK in March so I could visit my brother, SIL and nephew. Or that when our entire family is together, there’s always drama and tears (‘family holiday’ is an oxymoron). Or that they will all be here next Easter anyway. And much as I’d love to meet her, at less than 4 months old, Baby Niece won’t register if I’m there or not for Christmas anyway (my nephew would, and I am very sad that he doesn’t live around the corner so I can see him all the time, because he is AWESOME).

My Mum mentioned that my brother is worried that I’ll be on my own and ‘not even in a Christian country’ for Christmas. I won’t be on my own – I’ll be with a small tour group (and even if I wasn’t, I’m pretty good at making friends on the road). And I suspect the hotel we’re staying at on Christmas Day will lay something on for its Western tourists. Even if it doesn’t, I’m sure it will be memorable! This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve not spent Christmas with my family – I think just once isn’t a terrible offence, is it?

On top of this, I’m looking to change my car at the moment, and that, plus another flippant comment on Facebook about buying something expensive (it was a joke), had my brother reacting with ‘Or you could get your priorities right and come and visit your niece.’ Ummm…

How do I get past the GUILT that I should spend money that I don’t have to go and see my family?! At what stage does duty and obligation supersede what I want to do? Am I a Horribly Selfish Bitch Single Girl?

Aaaargh.

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